One way of continuously growing and working on your professional development is through reading. Reading can help us learn new habits that we can then teach to the teams we manage. Reading can be one of the most effective ways to support someone moving into a management position because reading feels leisurely, but you’re actually acquiring a lot of valuable knowledge. Leading a team is not a skill that anyone is born with. Gaining leadership skills takes time, effort, and a lot of learning. In this article, we’ll cover some of the best books for new managers so you can feel more confident and more equipped to lead a team of employees.
How books can benefit new managers
Books can benefit new managers because they provide an excellent opportunity to learn and to gain a new perspective on management that is outside of the manager’s immediate circle of leaders or coworkers. There is a huge variety of management books, so new managers have the opportunity to select a book that speaks to them personally. What’s better is that the best books for new managers hold so many lessons and insights that can be applied in your personal life and, therefore, can enrich your life more broadly in a way that extends beyond the office. Because there is often no formal training on how to become a manager, reading can be used as your secret weapon as you grow into a leader.
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10 best books for new managers
1High Output Management by Andy Grove
High Output Management is a great book for new managers because it teaches the essential skill of creating and maintaining new businesses for the modern-day entrepreneur. That said, this book is not only for entrepreneurs, as it holds many learning lessons for managers that come from all kinds of businesses. Andy Grove, former chairman and CEO of Intel, shares his perspective on how to build and run a successful organization.
“But in the end self-confidence mostly comes from a gut-level realization that nobody has ever died from making a wrong business decision, or taking inappropriate action, or being overruled. And everyone in your operation should be made to understand this.”
– Andy Grove, High Output Management
2Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Radical Candor is an optimal read if you’re new to leadership because it’s about caring about your role personally while providing constructive criticism to improve your leadership and your team’s performance. There is a focus on how to provide effective guidance that will help your team grow. This book focuses on praise but also teaches you how to deliver criticism in the most effective way possible so you enjoy your leadership role and the time you spend with the people with whom you work.
“When it comes to our own biases, I think we’re often much more likely to actually have a fixed mindset – I am not a biased person. Instead, adopt a mindset like – I do not want to be a biased person, but I know I have a lot of biases and I’m curious to learn what they are so that I can get better and improve.”
– Kim Scott, Radical Candor
3Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders by William A. Gentry, Ph.D.
“We all have mental scripts that tell us how the world works. Your old script was all about “me”: standing out as an individual. But as a new leader, you need to flip your script from “me” to “we” and help the group you lead succeed. In Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders, Gentry supports and coaches you to flip your script in six key areas. He offers actionable, practical, evidence-based advice and examples drawn from his research, his work with leaders, and his own failures and triumphs of becoming a new leader. Get started flipping your script and become the kind of boss everyone wants to work for.”
“Your script helps you understand who you are and how to live. It’s what is expected of you. When you write your own script, you provide details about how you are supposed to think; what you are supposed to do; how you should act, feel, relate with others; how you should view the world; and how you should view yourself. Scripts help us understand our roles and our purpose.”
– William Gentry, Ph.D., Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders
4Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey has made her childhood dream of being a TV comedian come true. Bossypants touches on her youth to her rise to fame, which started on Saturday Night Live. Everything from motherhood to self-consciousness is touched upon, and Tina Fey reveals all there is to know about her and how she made her dreams become a reality. She reminds us that you are no one until someone decides to call you bossy.
“Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.”
― Tina Fey, Bossypants
5Own the Room: Business Presentations that Persuade, Engage, and Get Results by Booth, Shames, & Desberg
Own the Room: Business Presentations that Persuade, Engage, and Get Results is a fabulous book for new managers because it provides insights on an essential skill: presenting. This book teaches new managers to facilitate presentations that engage and move the audience, creating buy-in and trust. The authors present the renowned Eloqui Method—involving innovative techniques that are modern, versatile, and effective. Research has demonstrated that more memorable presentations are the result of a combination of using ethos while also using factual information. The techniques presented in this book have been used over the past decade by several Fortune 500 companies such as TD, Fisher-Price, and Pfizer. If you’re looking to optimize your presentation skills, this is the book for you.
6Welcome to Management: How to Grow from Top Performer to Excellent Leader by Ryan Hawk
Welcome to Management: How to Grow from Top Performer to Excellent Leader is a great book for those looking for an all-in-one guide to becoming a great manager. Ryan Hawk presents a new and actionable framework that is created as a result of over 300 interviews from the most innovative thinkers and leaders from around the globe, while also drawing from his own professional experience as he journeyed to become a leader. This book teaches every new manager how to lead themselves, how to build their team, and finally, how to lead their team. Providing case studies, interviews, and personal stories, this book helps you take the leap from individual contributor to leader.
“If you are curious and open for the ride, you will discover that leadership is a journey into yourself.”
– Ryan Hawk, Welcome to Management: How to Grow from Top Performer to Excellent Leader
7The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s most respected entrepreneurs, offers crucial advice on building and running a new business in The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, which is based on his popular blog. Horowitz provides practical wisdom for managing extremely difficult problems and analyzes the problems that leaders face on a daily basis, sharing the insights he’s gained while developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. This book gives it to you straight while simultaneously being hilarious. If you’re looking to start your own venture, this is the book for you.
“There are no shortcuts to knowledge, especially knowledge gained from personal experience. Following conventional wisdom and relying on shortcuts can be worse than knowing nothing at all.”
― Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
8Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones is a book with a proven framework for improving your habits every day. James Clear is one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation and provides his readers with practical tips that will teach new managers how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master different smaller behaviours that can lead to remarkable results. Clear highlights that if you’re having issues with your habits, your problem is the system that you have in place, not yourself. He, therefore, provides a proven system that can take you to new levels as a leader.
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
9Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
Former FBI agent Chris Voss had a career as a hostage negotiator which brought him face-to-face with a range of hard situations with difficult individuals. Later, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. His book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It takes you inside the world of high-stakes, tough, and seemingly impossible negotiations, teaching you the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed in saving lives. This is a practical guide in which Voss shares nine effective principles, counterintuitive tactics, and strategies you can use to become a better negotiator in your professional and personal life.
“Negotiation as you’ll learn it here is nothing more than communication with results.”
― Chris Voss, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
10How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends & Influence People is one of those classic management books that remains relevant even today. This book teaches new managers to take any situation that comes their way and make it work for them. Carnegie’s time-tested advice has taught countless people how to find success in their professional and personal lives. This is one of the most groundbreaking and timeless bestsellers of all time, and it will teach new managers how to make people like you, how to win people to your way of thinking, and how to change people without provoking feelings of resentment.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People
Reading is a way to give you a new perspective on your management journey. Often, the authors of these books are extremely successful, so reading these types of books is often like having a mentor or a guide. Because you have the liberty of choosing a book that really speaks to you, not only will you enjoy reading as a hobby, but you’ll also gain new ideas, tools, and resources to yield in your new leadership position. What you take away after finishing a book can be really motivating, and your takeaways can equip you with lessons and learnings you can then pass on to your team as you simultaneously learn with them. In this way, reading is truly the gift that keeps on giving!